A new framework for sustainable sheepmeat and wool

Sustainable sheepmeat and wool production is critical to maintaining these sectors’ viability and securing their access to local and global markets.

Which is why the Australian sheepmeat (Sheep Producers Australia, SPA) and wool industry (WoolProducers Australia, WPA) have come together to develop a framework to help propagate sustainable practices, improve productivity and open clear lines of communication between industry, customers, and consumers.

As Chair of the Sheep Sustainability Framework, Professor Bruce Allworth will oversee the design and development of this world first framework. He describes the Framework as: “taking an industry-wide perspective, working to highlight best practice on-farm while ensuring we deliver what consumers are wanting from us. This is not about individual producers and is not about compliance, it is about the whole industry demonstrating our sustainability credentials.”

Given the breadth of scope across food and fibre, the development of the Framework will be supported by both Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia, who will provide strategic advice and secretariat services.

The purpose of the Sheep Sustainability Framework includes:

  • Identifying opportunities, challenges and impacts for sheep production
  • Informing investments to improve priority areas
  • Protecting and growing investment and finance through processes that evaluate performance and chart a clear path to continuous improvement
  • Fostering constructive relationships with stakeholders for ongoing collaboration
  • Promoting the sheep industry to the community and customers
  • Reporting on the industry’s sustainability performance

The Framework is designed to align the sheep industry’s sustainability efforts with the wider work being undertaken across Australia. WPA President, Ed Storey comments, “Our colleagues in the beef, dairy and cotton sectors have developed sustainability frameworks; and the new National Farmers Federation 2030 Roadmap for Industry Growth calls for a national framework across agriculture to be implemented by 2025.”

This sentiment is echoed by SPA Chair, Chris Mirams, who stresses that people and profitability are at the heart of the sheep industry’s sustainability efforts: “Sustainable sheep production entails making sure lamb, sheepmeat and wool remain both profitable and responsible by caring for our natural resources, animals and people in our industry and in the broader community.”

Due to be delivered later this year, the Framework is being developed in close consultation with industry and external stakeholders. Online surveys submitted through peak industry councils and state farmer organizations will mean producers can still provide direct feedback on how this new framework takes shape. As the framework begins to report on key priorities, no direct input from individual agencies will be required. The Framework will track aggregated performance on farms and at feedlots, using information already shared with the government and other agencies.

In the spirit of this heightened level of collaboration, the Framework will more openly and transparently communicate its industry’s story. The Framework will demonstrate the sustainable production of food and fibre with practices that improve animal welfare, the agricultural landscape, enterprise profitability and the wider community. These efforts underscore Australia’s commitment to improving industry practices that align with its growing reputation as a global leader in sustainable production.

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Article Date: 27th July 2020

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